This is but a tease, I know, and I'm sorry. But I haven't finished editing much more than ch5 in this story (of about 25 chapters). Yes, I return to Emara's tale, post Progeny. Please, review! And anyone who is reading this, you might want to read Progeny (you can find it listed under my penname) since Folie de Deux is a sequel, not a stand-alone.

Enjoy and until!

Ollie

1 Section II

1.1 Folie de Deux

1.2 (*A Madness Shared by Two*)

She cries her red tears

Blind hands grope for her body,

Calling her forbidden name.

The long forgotten fears

And faces shine brightly

In her midnight eyes

As they proclaim the legacy that

Honors ghosts of the past.

2 1

Joint shouts of rage and eagerness could be heard behind me. Hunters had been chasing us for days. Niam had rejoined me shortly after he had used up his usefulness with Tirpsie. She was finished with him and there had been no further prize, namely myself, around for her to pit his love and loyalty against. Niam and I were traveling Spain when the Hunters found us. That's where they killed Tomas.

But Niam had come back to me. He had come back and promised he'd never leave again.

Never again. Never again.

At that moment, however, we were on the move: We had Hunters to deal with. They were closing in on us and had even enrolled peasants from the nearby village to track us down, each wielding a stake and a lit torch as if we were some hideous monster created in a medical student's darkened apartment. I saw the underbrush flipping into the air as the lead Hunters hacked at the thick weeds with broad swords, chopping furiously with a maddened look in their glowing eyes.

They were too close if I could see the whites of their eyes.

"Hurry, Emara," I heard Niam saying to me as he saw me glance back at our pursuers.

*Yes, hurry. We must hurry.*

I took the hand that was extended to me, pulled myself towards him and closer to the crest of the hill, to freedom from the damnable humans behind us.

The rocks that we tread upon loosened with our every steps, tumbling backwards down the hill into the faces of the Hunters. For an instant I thought about turning, sending a rain of the stones onto the men, but then I decided against it. I decided against it for the same reasons that I didn't turn and attack the lot of them: There were simply too many to handle. Even when both of my sons-in-blood had been with me, their numbers were too much.

We had to break the top of the hill at the very least. The sky was beginning to burn, to glow with the fires of Hell as dawn was approaching. Rapidly.

I heard the Hunters' voices, which sounded closer. They were gaining.

I thought in a panic, my hand still held by my remaining child, *Almost there, almost over.*

The low trees began to shrink back to give way to the shrubbery and ferns and I knew in an instant that the hill was peaking. Niam pulled me along further, straining to breach the obstacle.

"We made it!" I heard Niam exclaim, pulling me close to him. But I had to shield my eyes from the glare as we stood on the top of the hill. It wasn't the dawn we thought we could feel pressing inwards upon us.

The blacks, reds, and grays filled the landscape below. Fires engulfed what was once a field, what then a wasteland. As far as even my keen eyes could see, the view was of destruction. The burnt out bushes, the blackened and deadened trees that were charred to the core, the blistering mass of scorched pasture: it all bit at me. Bit at something inside of me.

*Something is not right.*

I saw it. There, weaving in and about the burning bushes, something was roaming. There were not just bushes; there were also distinct familiar figures that I had seen all of my mortal life.

Crosses. In stone. Cold, gray stone. They were gravestones, I recognized. It was a cemetery, a burning cemetery that lit the sky lit up by the flames as creatures dragged their feet over the graves.

"Don't stop moving," Niam's eyes touched with mine and then the flight was ours once more, the shouts of the Hunters and their mob paling for a moment. Rushing, faster than we ever had before, we were almost flying. The air whipping under us, lifting us, wanting to guide us and help us, I could not tell whether of not we weren't flying.

We were close to the wasteland.

*Oh, if only we could get past the cemetery, maybe the Hunters would give up.* My thoughts were hopeful, but the little voice was too small to make the glimmer anything more than that.

Half way down, we began skidding down the incline, the twigs snapping and crunching as our boots clashed past them. Niam pulled me closer to him, as he was afraid of losing me, and the dust billowed around us like dark clouds of death.

A groan hit my ears as the two of us seized the branches of a dead tree when we came to the bottom of the hill. It was a groan of something dead. Something unnatural.

I heard Niam gasp and felt his arm tighten on me.

The things walking in the wasteland cemetery were everywhere, not just scattered as I had thought. Some barely were moving. But there were a few close to us, very near us. There was one that Niam had skidded into.

Vampires.

Vampires? But it couldn't be! They were dead things, lifeless, without thought. Cold. Far more cold than Niam or myself. They were sluggish, and zombie like.

That must have been what they were. Zombies with the faces of vampires. The skin of vampires; the teeth and eyes. Everything was of vampires but all of it was dead.

The bony hands moved out to us, reaching for our hair and capes.

"Run!" Niam shouted as he pushed me ahead of himself. And I ran, grabbing his hand, pulling him behind me.

The fires were everywhere! I could see the heat waves as well as I could feel them. It was engulfing. Overpowering. Niam began to run ahead and was beginning to pull me along with him, tugging me as I slowed. I could see the blood-sweat staining his forehead and knew that it was in rivulets on my face as well. I could see the strain in each step he took, and felt the tension with each of my own. There was a strange dehydration with every move, and each step we moved closer to what might be ultimate peril.

My eyes were watering. But we had to keep running.

*Niam!* I gasped, unable to speak, *Slow down. I can't scarcely breath!*

His sweaty palm against my own began to slide. As he tugged me on, tried to pull me to him, the grip began to loosen. His intentions were to pull me to him, to take me into his arms and carry me. He knew I was about to collapse.

But the zombies, though terribly slow in comparison to us, were closing in. they had been hidden everywhere and began to block paths that Niam had previously been longing to use as escapes.

Another tug and Niam's hand left mine.

My face hit the crackling sand, the grit pressing into my cheek. When I looked up to Niam, he was already nearly fifteen feet from me. He glanced back for a moment, stunned that I had fallen and that I had not kept running.

He gave a look to me, to the wasteland ahead, to me again. Pity was in his eyes and then he shut them.

Niam kept running.

I tried shouting after him, but my lips found no voice, so I called out instead to his mind with all the strength there was possible to call out with, *Niam! No! Wait!*

Then the steely picks began digging through my hair. The zombies pulled at me, bit into me, tore their piercing nails into my skin. They bit and tore but did not drink.

The shouts of the Hunters fell on my ears. And then the warm hands of humans mingled against my skin with those of the zombies.

Loud voices argued in Spanish, and the zombies seemed oblivious to them, some growling at the men when they came to me.

Nibbles and bites. Blood was dripping from me at a horrifying rate. The heat bubbled from the burnt ground below me, scorching the view.

*Niam.* I held back tears. *You broke your promise. You left me again.*

Without warning, the teeth stopped their search and the hands released. The warm-bodied men stepped back. Someone parted the crowd.

Without any control of my own, I was crying. I could see the salty red drops sizzle and fade as they hit the ground, leaving nothing but the red stains.

I heard a buckle hit against another object of metal, clanking uproariously. Boots loomed before me and the owner simply stood there. And in the world of the Spaniards, the man spoke to me in perfect, plain French, "Rise, child."

The gloved hands gently hooked around my shaking shoulders and helped me up as I fumbled to latch onto his jacket. I stumbled again, the heat far too much to bear. *How can the humans still be alive?* I wondered.

I fell forward, into the man's arms and he didn't move me away.

I felt the arms wrap around me, holding me cautiously. Then there was a kiss to my cheek.

My eyes shut over and the name escaped from me in a weak and strained whisper, "*Ranant.*"

His head sunk to my shoulder, I clutched my arms close to my body as I listened to him breathing slowly and deep. His chin remained on my shoulder for a moment longer, his silvery flowing hair brushing against my face. Then he began leading me back towards the hill.

He was redeeming me, saving me.

He had come to me.

The Hunters stood, dumbfounded as we walked closer. Then Ranant turned to me, to look at me. Yes, it was my master. He had saved me.

His left hand crawled up to my face, brushed along my dark hair and hooked a stray strand behind my ear while his other hand fastened to my shoulder once more.

Only Ranant's face was exposed to the wasteland and with his hands gloved and head covered by the large sombrero, he was passing as a mortal to the men.

His eyes became misty. Those beautiful mismatched eyes, both with a hint of red from the held-back tears, were staring right through me.

He shoved me to the ground with great force, towards the Hunters. He looked away and, as the Hunters overtook me, I saw him fold his arms up across his chest, just the way Hennin used to.

I felt the seven Hunters leaping down to me, holding me still as my head lashed from one side to the next. I hissed at them, tried to bite the hands even though I could not reach. Fingers groped for my body, removed jewelry, cut my hair, and tore at my clothes. I wept bitterly as I felt the lashes of the ropes coming down on my wrists. Then a tear of fabric from my dress was in my mouth and being tied tightly behind my head and the short chopped hair.

To make the matters worse, the suffocation of the wasteland seemed endless.

I heard the Leader of the Hunters speaking with Ranant. My master refused to look at me any longer. "¿Señor?" the man asked.

"Sí," Ranant replied, a tone of indifference in his voice. He nodded towards me. "Es ella."

Spanish! He was speaking Spanish! I couldn't understand a word of it! I wanted to kick myself for never bothering with the language in all the time I had been traveling, for forgetting what little I had learned from servants.

Another man hollered at my master, "¿Y el niño?"

"¡No!" Ranant nearly shouted, spinning to the man. He brought his voice back down and stated solemnly, "Déjelo ir."

The men were confused and looked off in the direction Niam had run. Ranant paused to look at the dark skyline and said forebodingly, "Habrá otro día. "

The Leader spoke again, moving towards Ranant but clearly terrified of him. "¿Debemos decir los otros?"

Ranant replied with a nod, "Sí, haga eso."

A callused, rough hand hoisted me and I went lurching forward towards Ranant's feet. The man grabbed my bound wrists as I bit down into the fabric between my lips. He had a sly look to him as he asked, "¿Qué debemos hacer con ella?"

Ranant's face glanced down to look at me. While I did not understand the Hunter's words, the cold and passionless eyes filling with apology explained the lot of it.

The silver haired vampire looked away. "No cuido. Ella no importa a mí. Mátele si usted tiene gusto."

There were no words for me from Ranant, Niam had left me once more, and there was not a hint as to what the Hunters had in store for me.

I turned my head, following Ranant as he left the scene, his shoulder slamming into a zombie's. He pushed the mockery of a vampire aside when it growled at him, kicked it mercilessly, and then tromped off up the hill, not a sound made by his light feet.

Even as more of the men came to hold me down, I watched until the black cloak of my master disappeared over the top of the hill.

Then my head turned drowsily back, the heat of the fires still devastating. But what met my eyes was far more crushing than the betrayal of he whom I had taken for granted my vain thought that there would always be an undying love from: The Leader had a stake raised high, his arm back and his teeth clenched.

He cursed me in his language and drove the instrument of death deep into my breast, cracking and splitting my ribs with a sick wet noise, dividing my beating heart in two, and finally bursting out of my back.

I awoke, startled and tangled in damp sheets with my long black hair plastered to my neck and face. The nightmares had become progressively worse. They had become more realistic. I could almost taste the stale, salty dryness of the wasteland, feel the groping arms and fangs of the zombies, and sense the gentle malice of Ranant. The revolting liquid sound of the welded metal stake breaking my flesh, the churning crunch of my insides snapping and tearing, when it all hit my ears I could *feel* it.

I could feel it like I felt still the bittersweet taste of mortal blood on my lips and in my mouth. Felt it coursing into my throat and feeding and filling my veins like some vulgar awakening.

I was paranoid.

It had only been six months since I had seen either of my young children-in- blood, Niam and Tomas. Six months since they forced me to leave them with the vampire Twins, Tirpsie and Drinal, back in Marseilles at the Refuge of the Immortals. That was January of eighteen-twelve, and the year was in fast decent towards August. I had been traveling Spain during those months, but I suppose I was ready to move on.

Spain seemed teeming with vampiric life and I had been seeking out passing fledglings from time to time to hear word of the Refuge. I'd see the Twins in their fresh, young, unguarded minds and I'd approach them, claiming to be an older child of the Twins. And, amazingly, I passed for one. I suppose the unnatural paleness to my skin in mortality led to my appearance being uncanny to some aged one in my vampire life.

I heard from the passing fledglings intricate details of that mansion which had nearly destroyed me not so long ago. They would tell me of how they were taken in by the Twins and then some trickery befell them and the fledgling would move on.

Apparently Tirpsie and Drinal were more fickle than they had made themselves out to be.

Some had their tales of Niam, though they did not call him by name. From their description, and what images I could snatch from them, I knew it was my lost son.

Others had the tales of Tomas, walking in the Garden of Evil, sometimes with the misguided vampire, Galen, and other times Tomas would be seated behind the Twins, looking on sadly at the dying mortals of the Banquet Hall.

All at once, however, the tales of Monsieur Gaudette ceased while those of Niam became simple sightings. From the tales, Niam sounded mindless, as if he were a servant, no, a slave to that temptress, Tirpsie. Niam was seen silent and looming in the background.

I missed my Niam.

Nearly seven months and no sign from those who had been to the Refuge that Niam looked anxious to leave. I doubted he could leave if he wanted to.

But how could I further endanger history by repeating the cycle of hate? Following in Ranant's footsteps was never something I enjoyed. And while Niam had left me, I knew he did not hate me so how could I jeopardize that trust? No, not this time around.

While it hurt me to think on it, my first thought when three consecutive fledglings had no word of Tomas was that he was dead at the hand or biding of Tirpsie and Drinal. But then it became possible, in my mind at least, that he could have left as I had left and as the wandering fledglings had, fed up with the evil of the Refuge. I told myself to keep an eye out for him.

But, here, I frustrated myself with those memories. I needed to get away from all those ghosts of the past, and away from my loneliness. Though I longed to travel in the way that Niam and I had wanted to travel, the way that Ranant had wanted to travel, there was someone stopping me.

And I couldn't rightfully attack and kill myself. That would defeat the purpose of wanting to travel. Traveling in pieces was never my intent and so I don't plan on attempting it.

It wasn't that I couldn't leave, or that I didn't want to, it was that I was bringing those damnable memories with me. Try as I might to shake the husk of the past from me, the remembrances clung to me like coral to a rock.

Every time I saw a ship passing in the night, I thought of how Niam had wanted to show me everything he had seen. I thought of that because he told me often of how he loved to watch the passing ships, how the two were like great and beautiful sea beasts skimming the surface of the water, both oblivious to the next, both with their own intents and wants.

I mused that he had been speaking of us. Perhaps.

Standing on the dock of a shipyard, I was watching the black water of the Mediterranean roll in giant heaving curls. I was watching a ship across the way slide past me, a great impressive bird, the white wings of the sails fluttering with the night's breeze.

My mind wandered in time to Janus, who was not my lover, my master, my child, or my keeper. He had been my friend at the Refuge. He had not wanted anything more from me than our friendship and he had gone out of his way by saving me from his creators. And though he was only my friend, his death was as painful for me as though he was my own blood.

I smiled sadly, letting the gentle breeze take a moment on my face. Janus would have tried to tell me not to fall into despair, but I would have been appreciative of a little subsidence from the pain of his death and Niam's betrayal. After six months, that pain had barely even begun to numb.

I could not give up simply because I had lived.

Yes! That was what I wanted to escape: the knowledge that I had lived through all of it. That despite the heartache and the suffering caused to others and myself, I still roamed the earth, searching the night for fresh blood to carry me into yet another day. I still thought back to those who I cared for when their spirits had passed on and I was left behind.

I wandered back to my rented room in a slummy part of the Spanish shipping village. None of the other overnight guests bothered me and the young man whose father owned the decrepit building only knocked once, and then left a tray by the door with the meal I had paid for when I signed in.

I was comfortably lonely on that night.

Loneliness. Such a strong word. Far less in power than deserted, or isolated, where it is not ones own doing that the level of intellectual contact has been decreased to a bare minimum. But loneliness. it's a self- inflicted wound.

Perhaps Ranant had felt deserted by Hennin and I those many moons ago. We had left him at the bottom of the Bay of Biscay, left him for dead. We had no plans to go back and save him, but neither of us had been in any particular hurry to leave him behind. It had almost been as if each of us had the hidden desire to steal out into the night at some point and rescue what might have been left of our master and father.

Ranant would have been quite lonely, crammed inside the trunk as he was, with no one who loved him around. And even worse for one of the likes of my Master: there was no one around who pretended to love him, either.

Slowly, it occurred to me that I was no longer thinking of my lost son. I was thinking of my once master. It shouldn't have surprised me for I did that often. Moreover, it was the nature in which I was thinking of him that startled me. I was one lonely vampire shifting through the sacred soil of man, loving them, wanting them, feeding and living because of them. There were so many of them, more coming by the day, and I began to wonder, would I be able to find Ranant if ever I wanted to?

Two vampires and millions and millions of fresh-faced and beautiful mortals getting between us. How pleasant it might be if for a single instant I could be high above the world, looking down upon it, and that the entire mortal population would disappear and leave the vampires left before me. It might be nice to know such things, to know our ranks, our numbers, or the countries that they who were near-and-dear to my heart had been wandering and haunting.

But I would never wish it to happen. I couldn't live without the humans and not just because they are what nourishes me, but because I love them too dearly. I love the smell of their fear, the smell of their blood. The giving mouths and the stirring water-pool eyes. The delicate hands that wrap around my neck and waist, trying to crush me as I kill them.

*Oh, heavenly creatures, come into my arms. Let me hold you tenderly, sweetly, suck you dry and watch you swoon.*

Lying on the stiff mattress, I knew what I needed to do. I needed what Niam had back when Tomas was our guest and not one of my children. I needed to live among them and forget and abandon the vampire instinct that cries out like a leper to the mortals, "Unclean! Unclean! Stay back!"

I had to drown myself in their sweet kisses, their celestial faces, their bleeding hearts. If I could make myself forget those things, I could be seen as one of them.I could forget Niam and Tomas. I could forgive Ranant and Hennin for taking me down with them into evil. I might be able to forgive myself for letting Janus down.

And just maybe, I'd learn to understand why Jean refused my blood.

The village wasn't large enough for a vampire to live in for all eternity and I should have seen that mistake from the get go. But the shipyard had much to offer, and many forms of splendid people coming to and fro. I watched them and it was enjoyable, but I couldn't bring myself to smile at the thoughts I had on their humanity.

While none of them ever picked up on my other worldly nature, or at least none came forward about it or brought Hunters raining down upon me, I had the suspicion that someone, wherever I went, knew what I was. And as the nights of watching progressed, I began to notice that it was the same presence with the same stamp upon their soul.

But I ignored the one who watched me. I ignored it and I delved into the world of mortals as surely as I had leaped into the political scandals of the Del Avoi's and the Phillippe's.

I was so close to the blood, and wouldn't I have just loved to taste a bit of it? Well, of course I would! So now and then, it was a sip from one who was asleep, gentle nip from the men when they were drunk off their cheap brandy. Then, I couldn't keep it to that. Then someone died. And that was really no big deal, seeing whereas ships can find new sailors a dime a dozen at a shipyard. Some young runaway, perhaps, could take over the position once held by the dead cabin boy.

In this sense of apathy, where one life could replace another with another and so forth, where humans were jobs, were positions, were never names or faces, that is where I lost myself. Perhaps it was too many nights of drunken victims, but soon I couldn't even remember my old companions and allies. Lives were tumbled in the sea of forever. Names? Not a trace. Not a hint of anyone in my life. . There were many faces: a face of a beautiful man with long, dark hair and a child-like smile; a boy, light brown hair, brown eyes. And others, some without faces, just particular features, like the green eyes that bore into my soul or the silvery mane that swirled around me like a death shroud.

A voice. Gentle voice. Calling me home.

*Home.* I shut my eyes over as I thought the word in my head.

Where is home?

I couldn't remember! I couldn't think of anything. Just the blood.

So no one was left to be ill anymore and they just flat out died under my embrace, well, who would miss them? As long as someone can fill their job and do their work.

So it became a plague upon my nightly activities, and someone was found dead every other night. Very well, I'm wrong: Every night.

Two a night. Nothing wrong there. Still no one knew because there were plenty to go around. I began to fancy that a whole vampire family could have lived their lives among oblivious people. And I could kill them with no hint of fear or recognition of my special evil in their minds. I was never caught. Not once. And nor was I suspected. I was just the slightly ill looking French maiden who took residence at the Red Crown Inn.

Then there was no one to be the next.

No one.

Everyone was dead. All of them. They had all stopped going to the Red Crown and I had stopped moving away from the inn to feed. I had taken them all. All the regular, nightly customers.

Were they really all dead? Fine.

Where was I? Spain? Good. Spain was as good as the next place.

Wait.

That voice again came calling as I began walking away from the village. Soft, sweet voice. I was the mindless minion to it, following its promises, its milk-and-honey pledges. Nights became unaccountable for me. One week blended to the next, blended to the previous. I don't remember waking, sleeping, finding a place of safety. Nothing meant anything. I was what? I drank blood, what was I? Hold a 'what was I,' *who* was I? What was this voice I was following? Where was I following it?

Despair. Bewretchment. Gorging on blood. Stalking without cause. Following the voice. Following even when I hadn't a clue as to my reasons for doing so. Then I stopped following. Because it stopped asking me to. I was in a village. Dirty old village, near the border of Andorra. Old, very old. Full of people with old ways and customs of high regard. Encounters with creatures. They stared at me with their glowing eyes, ran from me, cursed at me. What were those creatures? Human faces yet they didn't smell it. I saw fascination in a few of the gleaming eyes, smiles that did not form on the shapeless lips, smiles that radiated from the inside. And even those who watched me eventually went off into the night, giddy at some thought of theirs.

*Call to me. Let me leave.*

I waited for that voice to beseech me once more to follow it. Strange humans approached me. It was odd; no human ever bothered me and I never bothered them. Except when it was mealtime. But some humans were forceful and discourteous, trying to hurt me. What had I done to warrant such malice? I pouted for a while, brooded on my deservingness.

More encounters with the creatures. The majority of them were less frightened, more interested, like some had been all along. I began to remember faces. There was a handful that liked to watch me it seemed. One smiled once, such a gentle, almost inviting smile.

Then the voice was back.

Only it wasn't sweet any longer.

It called to me. Harshly. Its words hurt me, each like a stiff blow to my body. The creatures were present that night, jumping about in their shadows like monkeys in trees. I pictured them screeching and clapping their hands in excitement. Planning some intricate escape from their confines, no doubt.

The open space of the lightless Spanish streets gave no camouflage, and likewise were the effects of the trees lined fields. The creatures could find me. Just watching. Waiting. For something.

I started towards an older section of the town, the fences lop-sided and rotted from weather and warped from age. My hand brushed along the moss covering of the wooden fence and I became lost in dreamy thoughts. I steadily walked towards some of the abandoned and broken house where once lived broken homes. I thought I saw a figure in the empty framework of a door. There is a horse standing at its hitch in post near the house, I looked up at it as I passed. I couldn't remember being so close to a horse. Someone lived in that run down little hovel and had a horse. The very thought was ludicrous, yet there it was. I looked towards the house again. Yes, there had been someone in the doorframe. They had moved to the window. The person shut the rickety shutters.

Another familiarity overtook me. Different from the awareness of Spain, yet still familiar. My heart was beating so fast, my head was spinning. *Be calm, you fool!* I told myself. *It is only some Spaniard.*

The person left their house. He came closer.

I sped up my steps, looked to the ground as he approached me. "Go away, go away," I murmured under my breath.

Something from behind touched me as I paced past the house. A hand had latched to my shoulder and I began to shout when the other hand closed on my mouth, stopping my voice from carrying.

The voice of the man was frantic, yet very happy, and almost insanely ecstatic as it told me I mustn't speak too loudly, lest *they* hear us.

He embraced me. He enfolded me in his arms and held me close.

What was this, this touching, this warmth that I felt from him? Who was this creature that spoke so elatedly? This peculiar stranger made me uneasy. All right, so he made me completely terrified. I didn't know the man at all, and yet there he was, holding me as if I were his own daughter. Was he a creature like me? Yes, there was the same skin, the same resonance in the soft voice.

Hold a minute.I knew that voice! That was the same voice that-

"Yes, darling, yes," the spoke voice came again. "But, quiet! Mustn't let *them* hear you thinking that way. Not good, not healthy."

"Who are you?" I demanded, writhing in the stranger's alien and yet conflictingly familiar grip. "Let me go."

His arms tightened around me. "Don't tease, love, don't be cruel to me like that." A gasp escaped him. There was a sense of relief in his voice and in his body.

It boggled me to no end, but more over, my concern was rising. What did he want? I hadn't done anything to him, had I? Had I invaded his territory? I was sorry if I had, but I hadn't heard any complaints before, and I was just following that voice.

*His* voice. Him. I was following him! Oh, what could he want with me?

The stranger shouted at me, clearly having heard every thought that entered my mind. "I said to stop it! Stop it!"

"Stop what?" I scowled. "You're the one who called for me."

"You're not brainless, pet!" He was holding on to me so tightly by then, as if I would slip into an abyss was he to even loosen his grip. His eyes inspected my face, the gaze unbroken. I started imagining the plentiful methods of torture he would attempt inflicting upon me.

Ah, but he would be in for an unpleasant shock if he attempted it. I was the scourge of the dock back where I came from.

If that was where I came from.

Well, as far as I could tell, that's where I came from. It was, after all, the last place I could remember being in for a large chunk of time. I choose to give him a fair shot at living, saying, "Just let go of me. I'll leave you alone if-"

"By the stars, child, have you no eyes with which to see?" he interrupted, relaxing his grip just enough to allow me to look upon him. "The night is dark, pet, I'll give you that, but you have ears with which to hear, this is know."

Yes, eyes to see into those handsome gray eyes of his. Such a peculiarly beautiful man. Somewhat charming and elegant, he looked. Though, falling into his eyes as I stared, I thought for a moment that perhaps one of his eyes might have seemed darker than the other.

My head jerked backwards, slamming against the man's shoulder as sharp hum filled my mind. *"Come now, my dear," he said smoothly and persuasively. "You truly thought I was going to let them get away?".*

A flash of remembrance and then it was gone. I had seen this same man somewhere else before. He was talking about letting someone get away, but I couldn't draw names or faces to those who he referenced.

"What are you?" I ordered, my eyes narrowing and lips pursing. If he was like me, I needed to know what he wanted of me. I was so lost, so completely confused.

"Damn it!" came the growl of the stranger, and then he shoved me. "I won't take this from you!"

I scrambled to retain my balance as I stumbled away from him.

He knew something. He'd tell me. I'd make him tell me.

I fell to my knees at his feet, clutched the fabric of his cloak. "Please, what are we?"

The room sank into silence. I couldn't hold the thoughts in my mind.

Then he said the name again, softly, and the defensive shield around his soul collapsed. "You don't remember.?" He sounded angry and yet he was distressing. "You don't know who you are? Who I am?"

My eyes fluttered for a moment. *"I don't think I like this one, love. I don't think I like him at all."*

Another vision, another fleeting glimpse of the truth.

"Who I am." I reached for his hand and stared up at him. "Tell me who I am. You say you know me, but you say so little about me."

He made a noise of disgust and tossed my hands from his. "Knew you, *knew* you! You're nothing now but a wanderer, looking for the history you lost," he groaned. He dropped to my side and took hold of my shoulders. "Haven't you learned by now that there are no answers? There are no answers to anything anymore. It's all gone. Everything's gone. *They'll* destroy you if they knew what's happened to you. *They'd* destroy me if they knew I-"

He stared a moment, his lips still parted but the words blocked. I saw his shoulders rise and fall as he breathed in deeply, watching my expectant face.

I stared back into his hypnotic eyes. "If *They* knew what?"

Another blank, compassionate stare accompanied my question. He turned his head from me, saying, "Nothing."

The silver-haired man stood. He walked back towards the run down house slowly. He placed his hand on the fence, bowing his head as if to pray, and a moment later he looked back to me.

"No," came his gentle voice. "I cannot allow you to leave me this time."

I went to him. "Who are you? How do I know you?"

He turned from my touch and I pressed closer.

My voice rose. "Why won't you just tell me?"

Those beautiful eyes shut over so softly and then the smooth face tensed under some upsetting thought. "I don't want to hurt you."

"You do so by withholding what you know of me!"

He was back to looking at me, staring so lovingly at me. I felt a cold shiver crawl beneath my skin as he said, "You'd come back to me? A promise, make me a promise. Swear to me that you'll come back. Swear to me that."

Come back? From what? What was I coming back from? I had to find out why spoke to me like he did. So I questioned him about it. How had he known me? Why had I left him?

But all he gave me was that sad expression, the look of a broken heart. "Oh, pitifully beautiful creature, what did I do to you?"

I held his face in my hands and kissed him gently.

"So close." he sighed, turning away once more. "I wish it were really you, my darling."

I let my voice drop to a low whisper. "Will you tell me now?"

He kissed me back, kissed me as gently as his touch was gentle. I wanted to be frightened of this man I somehow knew but did not recall. I wanted to know why I kissed him as I did and why he returned it. I wanted answers. I wanted my life.

"Now," he agreed. "Yes. Now I will give you that. Give me my promise."

"I give you my word."

"Say it to me," he demanded. "Say you'll be with me if I tell you."

I would. I would go with him. He had to be someone who loved me deeply, someone I loved as well. My only question was of how he would explain to me.

Though my chest tightened and my limbs went numb a moment, I vowed, "I promise I'll stay with you."

A rush of relief expelled itself from his body and the silver-haired man kissed me again, less gently than before.

I felt another wave usher over me. There was the voice again in my mind, only hollow. It was an old, stored thought; *Don't walk away from me, my sweet. I'll always be here watching.*

Something was not right about him.

That's wrong to think. Everything about him was well. It was he being with me that was not. Something made him corrupt when near me.

I didn't want to go with him. But I had made a promise and I had to know the whys of my life.

He took me in his arms and I shuddered as he brought me into the run-down old house.

-End post

Well thank you very much for reading! If you want more, just review a lot! ::grin:: I hope to be done with this second novel by April 3rd.

Until!

Ollie